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February 26, 2010

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First corporate manslaughter prosecution postponed

The first trial to be held under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 has been adjourned for at least four months owing to the ill health of defendant, Peter Eaton.

Charges were laid by the Crown Prosecution Service in April 2009 against Mr Eaton, and the company of which he is managing director, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd, following the death of employee Alex Wright in September 2008. 

The company is charged under the 2007 Act, while Mr Eaton has been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence in his own personal capacity.

The trial was due to start on 23 February but following submissions heard in private on 26 February, Mr Justice Field directed that the trial be adjourned for at least 18 weeks and be listed to resume in early October 2010.

Solicitors firm Pinsent Masons, which is acting for Mr Eaton and the company, said the decision was taken in light of the fact that Mr Eaton “must undergo urgent medical treatment of a character that would render it unfair and oppressive for him to have to participate in the trial at the same time”.

Neither Mr Eaton nor Cotswold Geotechnical (Holdings) Limited can make further comment at this stage, given that the proceedings are continuing.


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